Sunday, December 31, 2006
These are not resolutions
So, I'm sitting here in my lovely apartment feeling down and mopy. Mostly, I'm lonely and I blame that on my hormones. I think I'm being PMSy, frankly. Because I'm not depressed, I'm just....mopy. There is a difference. I spent most of my life vastly depressed and this is not that. This is transitory, thank the gods. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's where a lot of my problem is coming in. I spent so much time depressed and just fucking holding on to my sanity, that now that it appears I'm "cured" (ha ha. Right.) I don't know how to have a 'normal' life anymore. I've got lots of time now, and a reasonable amount of energy, but I don't know /how/ to do things that other people take for granted. Like, how do you meet people? And I don't just mean people to date, but you know, friends and shit? I have forgotten how to do that. Because I spent so much time on my own, just breathing and coming up with reasons not to overdose on sleeping pills. And now that I don't have to do that anymore, I just....how do I fill in that time?
So, because I'm determined not to wallow and mope and be useless, I'm doing a little look-over of my life this year. And no, this isn't a year end review. I may do something later, when this mope passes, but right now? No. Just a little look-over. I had certain goals, both long term and short term, that I wrote down here.
Now, some of them are clearly long term -- owning my own business, for example. Buying a cabin, making a movie. Long term, need to find financing goals. Some of the others, however, are not so long term.
So, I looked through them and realized, hey! I've managed to do one this year. Whoohoo. I got a new job. That's a big one for me, in fact it was the biggest one for this year. And I managed to do it, even though it took me most of the year to accomplish it. But hey, I did it. So go me.
And I was looking over the list and thinking to myself, what can I manage to do this year? Some are quite doable within a year, because they depend solely on me. (The whole boy/girlfriend/kissing in the rain bit...well, I need help with that. And yes, I'm taking volunteers.) So, what I plan to do off this list in 2007:
Learn to play the guitar. I'm seriously, seriously deeply envious and jealous of people who play the guitar. And for fuck's sake, if so many other people can manage it, surely I can too. I mean, if you can play three chords you can be a rock star. I can learn three fucking chords. I already know the guitar I want to get too. Being completely non-knowlegable, I'm going on instincts and well, I like how it looks ;) I'll post a picture as soon as I can track it down again.
And frankly, learning to play guitar leads nicely into writing a song. Or twelve. I already have more lyrics than I can ever use.
I just need to come up with the music for them. So there's that.
I can take a film class. LSU offers some via their leasure learning department, so I can take them for fun. So, maybe I can do that at some point this year, fundage permitting.
Hrm. I've actually already got plans for the flower garden. I was laying in bed last night, not sleeping as usual, and realized I could put window boxes in my two bedrooms windows. They're perfect for it, seeing as how they don't have screens :) Also, I've got a nice little backyard to put flowers in. And a windowbox in my kitchen, for herbs. All pagans should grow herbs, even if I had no idea how to cook with them or something ;)
I'm kinda wobbly on the tattoo and peircing thing. I want to do both, but I'm not sure if I should do it just yet. Here's my thinking, once I get back down to a size 20, the smallest I ever intend to be, it's time to pierce my bellybutton. And frankly, at the rate I'm loosing, I should be down to a 20 by next Christmas. I lost two sizes this year, putting me firmly into a 24. (And there was much rejoicing in my house when I had a giftcard that enabled me to go buy a pair of blue jeans that fit! Everything else I own is either a 26 or 28 and are falling off of me, but I have no money to replace them. Yet.) So, if I keep it up, I can be in a 20 by next Christmas and then...pierce me, baby.
The tattoo, I'm not so sure when I'll do it. I know what I want and I know where I want it though. Actually, I want a couple -- that's the problem. Which one to get? I want a butterfly on one foot and a turtle on the other. Both of them are my totems, so it makes sense. Also, I want a little Siamese cat, probably on my shoulder. But I also have thing -- I want to get the runes for creativity and joy tattooed on my inner thighs. Those may have to wait. Hrm.
So, I think I can accomplish those things on my list this year. Or at least, some of them. Saving for retirement is an ongoing process which -- yes! -- I have managed to start, thanks to the state's fucking awesome retirement plan. (Seriously, 8 percent of my salary goes in, then the state matches -- 19 percent. That's awesome.) I'm not ready to pay on my student loans just yet, but I can see that happening in a year or two. So there's light at that tunnel.
Oh, and if someone will just give me an excuse to drive to California, I'm so gone.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Because when shit happens to men, it becomes important
Now, I mean no disrespect to any man whose been raped. I'm not one of these people who deny that men can be raped. Of course they can be. And they experience the same levels of pain and shame that any rape victim feels and should be afforded the same sympathy and help. So, please, don't take anything I'm about to say as an suggestion that male rape victims don't deserve to be recognized or don't exist.
But...how many times has this shit happened to women and it never made the news? Certainly never seen a serial rapists who was attacking only women as the top headline on MSNBC before. Hell, when I was in the newspaper business, we had a serial rapist attacking women in our town and the police didn't even tell us about it until he was on victim number five! (To the paper's credit, once our police reporter noticed a pattern and pinned the cops down on what was going on, we did run a huge story on page one.)
Have we become so numb to violence against women that we simply assume there are serial rapists out there at all times? Have we just resigned ourselves to the fact that hey, shit happens if you're a woman?
Some of the quotes in this report are interesting to me. Like:
Levin and other experts say male-on-male rape sometimes stems from sexual encounters gone bad.
So, we're admitting that, between men, date rape happens. You know, two guys get together and one wants it and the other doesn't or maybe one is cool with the blow job, but draws the line at penetration, but the other doesn't agree and so...we have rape. Odd, isn't it, how when that happens to a woman it's all 'well, she should have known better than to go to his hotel room/taken off her top/gone down on him if she didn't want to have sex'.
he U.S. Justice Department says one in 33 men in the United States has been a victim of a rape or attempted rape, compared with one in six women. Experts say men are far less likely to report a rape to authorities, because they fear being perceived as weak or see the attack as an assault on their masculinity.
Okay, I'll be the first to admit I didn't know that the number was 1 in 33. That's awful. Of course, 1 in 6 is terrifying. And maybe the difference in those numbers has something to do with men who have been raped fearing that it makes them seem weak. Because it makes them seem like women, whom society has relegated to the class of victim. Which is something that, frankly, a lot of female rape victims suffer with. Being attacked makes them weak. Why didn't they fight back harder? Why weren't they strong enough to resist? Why didn't they have a knife hidden by the bed for just such an occassion? Why weren't they possessed of superstrength that enabled them to fling their attacker out the window? As far as an assault on their masculinity? Again, being raped makes them like women, who are not men, ergo not masculine. And what will other men think, if they know they allowed themselves to be assault? What kind of man submits to that? (Which, btw, is bullshit. If someone's got a gun to your head, you do what you have to to survive. Period. There's nothing weak about that. If someone is physically stronger than you and forces themself on you, that doesn't make you weak. That makes them an asshole and a criminal. Period.)
And this quote? Bullshit.
No one has been seriously hurt.
Really? Because what, rape doesn't have lifelong consequences? Right.
I'm annoyed that this story made the national news only because it involves men as victims. Granted, the national news can't do stories on every local serial rapist out there, but come on -- you don't see roundup stories about national sex abuse trends on the top very often either.
Rape victims, male or female, are relegated to the wayside in our society. Too weak or too dumb or too 'deserving' for our concern -- with no regard to the longterm consequences of ignoring a huge segment of our population. 1 in 33 or 1 in 6. Look at those numbers and think about the people you know. Chances are very good that at least one of the women you know has been raped and frankly, not so small a chance that one of the men you know has been too. With those kind of odds, can we really afford to ignore this problem?
Sunday, December 24, 2006
In which our heroine reflects on her family at the holidays
The festivities themselves went quite swimmingly. I got some stuff, had lots of food and saw the prettiest, smartest, most wonderfulest baby niece on the planet. It was good.
Then, this morning, my family went to church. I didn't want to go, but I figured, well. It's Christmas, no need to make a giant fuss and upset my mother. So I went. And I just sat there, listening to the message thinking to myself -- this is the exact opposite of who Jesus was and the message he actually delivered. Do they realize this?
Because they were talking about the Rapture! And the Second Coming! When Jesus, who was born in a stable to an unwed teenage mother and spent his entire life poor and wandering, telling people to be good to each other and be meek and modest and not lust after wealth and power and the other things the world values, will return. On a white horse, in the air, and he will grab all the Christians up with him to whisk them away to Heaven. (And let the rest of us finally breath a sigh of relief and go about the job of putting the world in order.) And then, for seven years, all those Saints will be in Heaven praising and singing and just being all happy and joyful about King Jesus. (Ignoring, for the moment, that Jesus as God wouldn't be in a physical form. Or if he was, why would we assume it was a human form? And Heaven, as the place God 'lives' wouldn't be a physical place either, since God isn't a physical person. Because if he was a physical person, he would be subject to the rules He set up for the physical world and would be long, long dead. But anyway.) Where was I? Praising King Jesus (And yes, he said that just like that. King Jesus.) Jesus, the one who rejected all praise and fame while he was actually here on earth? Jesus, the one who rebuked the kings of his time? That Jesus? Okay.
Then! Here's the good part -- King Jesus is gonna go back to Earth! To get those people who were left behind. And is he gonna be all loving and compassionate and forgiving and accepting? You know, like he was when he was actually alive? Oh, no. No no. He's going to take his Army of Saints, knock down the mountians and take the throne in the temple in Jerusalem. He's going to 'speak an angelic word' and slay the enemies of God! Because JC was all about the slaying when he was on earth. Remember how he ordered his army to whack the Romans? Good times. Good times.
I'm sitting in church, listening to this and I'm thinking "What the hell is wrong with you people???" Because why would you follow a god who wants to kill and maim and punish? It doesn't make sense to me. And how, exactly, do you go from Jesus, the pinnacle of peaceful revolution and resistance, to King Jesus the Destroyer? *sigh* And they wonder why people don't like them?
OOOOH! Plus, the preacher decided to detour from the message to talk about the evils of 'seeker centered' worship. It's where, the church goes into the community and *gasp* asks people what they need from a religious community. Find out what they need, what they want, what would make them come to church. And then -- get this -- give it to them. I know, shocking right? Actually looking for genuine need instead of just handing out the same old same old over and over again, and wondering why people don't respond?
So. That's what I did this morning. I did manage to not walk out this time. So I suppose that's a plus. Or something.
Then we went home and opened our presents. And that was fun. And nice.
1. I spent a year training to be a physical anthropologist in college, because I wanted to play with old, old bones.
2. I was once a registered Republican.
3. I married and divorced my best friend on a trip to Vegas in college, just so we'd have a great story to tell when we got back home.
4. I didn't have my first kiss until I was in college.
5. I have never been drunk.
So, spin the wheel and decide which is true and which is not.
Friday, December 22, 2006
The return of the sun
Today is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. Daylight fades quickly, darkness drags on and then the wheel turns. Out of that endless black comes a promise -- the light is not lost. The things we have planted, the plans we have made, the hopes we have whispered in the night have all been heard and preserved. Hold on, have faith and watch as the light returns.
This year it feels particularly important to me to remember this lesson. Nothing is permanent, not life or death, not joy or pain. Not matter the situation, if we hold on long enough, the wheel will turn and life will change. Tonight I may cry, but tomorrow I'll laugh. Thank the gods, nothing is forever.
Light a candle against the dark tonight and remember all the hopes you've whispered in the quiet. They aren't lost and they aren't forgotten.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Waking up bisexual
The first time I was aware I was attracted to women sexually, I was 16. I'd been aware I dug men for years, since I was like 11 or something. But at 16, I was spending the week with my best friend at-the-time, Sera. We had been doing gods only knows what during the day and were getting ready to go to bed. We were sharing her double bed, which we'd done so many times I lost count. Just goofing around, tickling and whatnot. Like we'd done so many times before. At one point, she had me pinned on my back, straddling me, tickling my stomach. And I thought -- gods, I've got to kiss her.
I didn't. I was too afraid by even having the thought. It struck me dumb. It made me go very still. I wanted to kiss her? Where the hell did that come from? And yet, even after I thought about it for a second, tried to rationalize it away as some crazy Devil-inspired thought (hey, I was a good Southern Baptist then), I still really wanted to kiss her. Kiss her and much, much more.
I don't think I slept that night. I remember being very aware of her laying next to me. She had the longest brown hair. And freckles all over her face. Her breathing seemed so loud and I thought for sure she could hear my heart beating, it was so loud. But no. She didn't notice. I must have covered well.
We spent the next few years as best friends, even rooming together at college. I never told her about that night, about how badly I had wanted to reach over and kiss her, run my hands through her hair, count all those freckles. And, eventually, those feelings faded and she was just my best friend, who happened to be in love with the slimest, skeezest man on the planet. But those are details.
I had no words for what I was experiencing then. I freaked out, but eventually I realized I did have a genuine attraction for men. So it must have been, what? A surge of hormones? Mistaking friendship-love with sexual-love? I was only sixteen, what did I know? And I didn't have those feelings for any other women for a long time, so I was able to write it off as a fluke. Then I meet my Ex and fell madly in love with him, so it didn't really matter if I had been or hadn't been.
As I've said before, spending those seven years with the Ex gave me the space and time to really come to grips with the fact that, yes, I did like women too. I don't believe I could have done it if I hadn't had that safety of being in a committed hetero relationship. It wasn't threatening, because I know I wouldn't act on it so long as we were together and, in the foolishness of youth, I believed that would be forever.
I started to entertain fantasies of hooking up with the cute girl in my chemistry class or the punk with two-colored hair who performed the most awesome poems at open mic night. Or you know, both at the same time. I never told my Ex about those, but he used to tease me that I was going to leave him for a woman. Eventually, all of my friends just sorta knew I was bi, i didn't have to tell them. I never had to come out, in a way, because I just sorta evolved into it and I was with a bunch of people who were accepting and didn't make a big deal out of it.
So, when I said, finally "my bisexuality" it sounded stark. Sort of. . .it gave me a chill down my spine. I suppose I still have enough Southern Baptist in me to inspire a fearful reaction, even though I've long given up the trappings of that particular religion. Even though I'm just putting into words something that's no secret. Even though I know the person I was talking too had no issues at all with my sexuality. And I think, if it makes me feel like that now, all these years and years later, there's no way in the world I could have ever said it to myself, to anyone else when I was 16, if I'd managed to understand it.
Because there doesn't seem to be any real guide for coming out bi. If you're gay, well, you've got people in the public eye (now, anyway) who have done it and have been successful. There are books and groups and it's in the social consciousness. But being bi? Most people want to say it's a phase. Or it's a stop on the road to full-gay disclosure.
And if you are bi, are you still bi if you're in a hetero relationship? Do you become gay if you're with someone of your gender? We're invisible, really, since the world likes to label relationships based on the gender of the partners. Which pisses me off, because what happens to all those little girls and boys who are bisexual and don't know how to be that? Whose going to tell them that it's okay? That they're fine like they are, that it's perfectly normal to like people regardless of gender. I really wish someone had been around to tell me, to let me know it was possible.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Justice for all?
And so, I move on to the story of Paul House. He's on death row in Tennessee, convicted of rape and murder. He's also, it seems, innocent. Even the US Supreme Court, with all it's wacko conservatives, believe so. They've said so, sent the issue back to the state. And House is still on death row.
You can read House's story here. We're looking at a case where post-conviction DNA points at another assailant (the husband), planted bloodstain evidence, confessions by the husband to TWO witnesses and otherwise fabricated evidence.
This man was set up. And the DA's response? Well, ok. So he didn't rape her, that doesn't mean he didn't kill her. But, it was the rape -- as an aggravating cirucmstance -- that was the key to giving House the death sentence and putting him on death row. So now, the DA's office (and the DA that prosecuted the case has retired, the one in office now has no dog in this fight, really. No one could hold him responsible.) is standing by the old case, even though it's clear to a "reasonable" person (says our ultra-conservative Supreme Court) would have never convicted him if the whole story had been put before them.
Add to the fact that House has since developed MS in prison. And what does his treatment in prison consist of? A vitamin and OTC sleeping aids. He doesn't get any of the new treatments that could make his life more bareable. With MS, he's in constant physical pain and possibly occassional paralysis. And they give him a vitamin and tylenol. I think they're forgetting the part of the law where unusual and inhumane punishment is, ya know, out.
So, anyway, if I hadn't been opposed to the death penalty before, this would do it for me. How many other House's are sitting on death row around the country? How many innocent people has the state, in my name and your name, killed? They're making us all murderers without our consent.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Here's my dirty secret: I love soap operas. I do. I know, I know. What's a smart, funny, feminist girl like me doing hooked on soap operas? What can I say, grad school rotted my brain. And my favorite soap is All My Children. So, when I heard they were introducting a transgender character? Ha! Well, let's just say it's become appointment television.
I'm a little concerned, of course, that the show is going to mess this up royally. But so far, it seems to be all right. It helps that they cast a wonderful actor, Jeffery Carlson, in the part. (Also? Check the photo. The man is yummy. And he wears fricking eyeliner on-screen. I had no chance. No chance at all.)
There are a few issues, I think. For one, he's falling in love with the show's sole lesbian character. Which is completely possible, because Eden Riegel? Also yummy. It does seem like a bit of a cop-out, though. Put the lesbian with the transgender guy, so we can have her with a guy who isn't really a guy but still has a penis. I don't know though. The story is still developing, so maybe they'll address these issues in a way that feels right, not forced. And there's not word yet if Zarf (horrible name for a character, but at least he's going to become Zoe, my absolute favorite name in the world) is going to have surgery or not. But it has the potential to be an interesting, edgy story, so I'm giving it a chance.
It does make me think, though. I have never, as far as I know, meet a transgender person. I have a friend who says she feels like she's supposed to be a man, but she's never made any moves in that direction. Which may still count, I don't know, but until she tells me she's claiming the label for herself, I don't feel comfortable assigning it to her. But still, I've been thinking lately -- I have absolutely zero problem with transgender people. Does that make me strange? Honestly, if I were dating someone and they told me they were transgender, I'm not sure it would bother me all that much. I'm sure there'd be issues. But would I dump them? For no other reason? That would be stupid. Beyond stupid, really. If I loved someone, I want them to be happy. If my boyfriend is desparately unhappy being a man, if he feels that he's really a woman, if he wants to dress as a woman, explore those feelings, why would I stand in his way? Why would I make it harder for her? It doesn't make any sense. And if that exploration lead her to believe surgery was the right option, well okay. First, its not my body, so I really have no say in what she does with it. But more importantly -- why would you want someone you love to be miserable just to conform to social expectations?
As far as sex goes? Well, I'm bi, so -- parts is parts, ya know? There would be issues with how other people reacted to us, how families reacted, but you're going to have those issues anyway. Well, maybe not those specific issues, but issues. No relationship is perfect and no family is perfect.
I realize this makes me sound hopelessly naive. And I probably am, but I'm also being sincere. I don't understand the transgender experience since I cannot imagine wanting to be anything other than a woman. I love it. I do, down to the very tippiest tip of my toes. I cannot imagine living with the knowledge that I was born wrong. I cannot imagine the amount of pain and confusion that must cause. But I can be empathetic. There's no reason for a person to have to live with that kind of pain, not when there are viable ways to avoid it. And there's no reason a person dealing with that pain should have to go without the same love and acceptance anyone else has. I truely cannot imagine rejecting someone I love because of the way they were born, because of a pain they have suffered. It's completely alien to me. Which means, yeah, I'm probably strange.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The way it should have been
Goddess knows I love Green Day. And U2. This video, first time I saw it, just made me sit down on the couch and force myself not to cry. How different could it have been, if our troops had been allowed to come home to aid Katrina victims? Without going into the politics -- gods know, anyone who has known me for more than 10 seconds knows how I feel about this goddamned war -- how many people would still be alive today if even just the Louisiana troops had been redeployed? How many people would be able to come home, to rebuild New Orleans? How many people wouldn't have lost faith?
And yes, I realize there's a certain amount of 'doing it for publicity's sake' going on -- but who cares? Fucking rock stars care more about our country and our people than the people who currently hold office. Rock stars, whose job is about as far from being compassionate and giving as can be imagined. And what do the people whose job it IS to take care of us do? Well. I'm sure you all have eyes and ears. You figure it out.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Fat and healthy? Goddess forbid!
Entire article can be found here. Select quotes:
. . .lifestyle changes including exercise programs such as tai chi, aqua aerobics and circuit training, coupled with behavior modification, can improve health risks in obese women even if they do not lose significant amounts of weight.
“People of all sizes and shapes can reduce their risk of poor health by adopting a healthier lifestyle,” Dr Erika Borkoles, of Leeds Metropolitan University in England, told a news conference.
Perfectly sensible. A good diet, moderate exercise, keeping control of stress levels -- all things everyone needs to do to be healthy, regardless of size. And the activites they suggest are fairly simple. No mention of exercising for an hour a day, every day as so often gets tossed about.
Although the average weight loss was small, from 239 lbs. to 233.7 lbs., after a year on the program, the women showed improvements in their self image, were fitter and less stressed.
“Psychological and physical health improved independent of substantial weight loss,” said Borkoles, adding that weight is a poor predictor of health.
Wait, what was that? A doctor saying that weight does not indicate health? Really? In print? Quick, someone give this Doc a place to hide before the fat-bashers hear!!
I'm pleased to see the medical community, in even a small way, acknowledging what has been shown to be true -- that it's not fat that's unhealthy. Living a sedentary, do-nothing life filled with stress is dangerous. But get the right stuff in your diet, get yourself a little active, have some friends and hobbies to curb the stress and look! Healthy and fat. What a concept.
Because men are nasty, vile beasties, see. . .
EASTON, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A man who pleaded guilty to molesting two girls told a judge he did it because of his wife's excessive bingo playing.
"My wife was never home," Floyd Kinney Jr. said during his plea hearing Friday.
Kinney's explanation did not sit well with Northampton County Judge F.P. Kimberly McFadden,
"Some people, when their wives are not home, decide to do other things, like clean their living rooms," McFadden said. "Your behavior is beyond the pale."
Kinney, 49, said his wife would sometimes argue with him over money and that he was angry she was spending too much on bingo.
"She would be going to bingo three, four times a week. I told her to stop going to bingo, and she said, 'If they had bingo every day, I'd go every day,"' he said.
Records say Kinney molested one of the girls, now 26, from 1992-97. He sexually assaulted the second girl, now 17, for a year beginning in January 2005, records show.
Kinney pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated indecent assault. The felony charges carry a combined maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Defense attorney Richard Yetter said his client was not articulate and may not have been doing a good job of conveying his rationale to the judge.
But McFadden said she found Kinney capable of explaining himself. "I think he is telling me exactly what was going on," the judge said. "His wife was not home so he was going to perpetrate on someone and he picked these two children."
Follow the logic -- my wife, she didn't do what I wanted her to do! And and and, she's my wife! I own her, don't I? But but...she wouldn't do what I wanted and so I was home all alone and needed the pussy and I couldn't get it from my wife because she was off playing bingo -- and that's gambling! The Bible says so! -- so I had to get it somewhere and those girls were there and they tempted me with their wanton girlishness and I couldn't help myself. I didn't want to molest them, but my wife made me do it.